Munchy Man comes to the rescue of hungry college students through delivery service

NEW_LA_DOM_2012_02_20_Munchies_Pu

Pu Ying Huang

Arshad “Baba” Rehman and Imran Jeddy are founders of Munchy Mart, a delivery service providing students with products typically found in convenience stores. Munchy Mart offers a range of items from snacks to calculators and even party packages which can include tables, ping pong balls and poker sets.

Chris Nguyen

Last year, then economics senior Arshad “Baba” Rehman was pulling another late night at the PCL. After hours of studying, his stomach began growling: he was hungry. Rehman was too exhausted to make the trek to a convenience store and did not want to lose his precious desk at the library and his remaining studying time.

What he needed for his dilemma was Munchy Man, a superhero to rescue him and provide him snacks to get him through the night. Of course, no such vaulted superhero existed — that is until Rehman took the memory of that night and created Munchy Man as the face of an online startup, Munchymart, which he co-founded with management information systems junior Imran Jeddy.

“How can a convenience store go on the wheels and turn mobile and still turn profit?” Rehman said. “We knew that students struggle with cost, and we wanted prices comparative to Wal-Mart. And we’re able to keep costs down because of lower overhead.”

The website, which launched Jan. 27, delivers products commonly found at convenience stores, from chips to soda, in the area between MLK Boulevard and 29th Street and Lamar Boulevard and East Campus Drive. They source their products from wholesalers and sell them at prices lower than surrounding stores. Munchy Mart also offers rentals of both academic necessities, like calculators, and leisure products, like Ping Pong balls.

“I had an office party a week or so ago and needed water last minute,” said writing and rhetoric junior Nick Spiller. “And it was great once it became 6 p.m. to have them deliver it while I was busy setting everything up.”

However, most notable are the packages, like the All-Nighter, which includes an energy drink and health bar that might have come handy to Rehman that night back in January, or the Marley Sack, which includes a lighter and deodorant spray. “We all know the origins of why people need the Marley Sack,” Rehman said.

Rehman and Jeddy moved quickly to make this idea a reality in a year’s time. A casual conversation between the two about the website set the ball rolling four months ago as they gathered funds from their savings and family and began laying the groundwork for the website and inventory.

Jeddy left a part-time job and had to adjust to support himself through Munchy Mart while still balancing a full course load. And despite hesitation from his parents, Rehman left his job at an online marketing company after graduating May 2011.

“My family now calls me Munchy Man every time I walk through the door when I come home,” Rehman said.

In the lead up to the launch, Rehman and Jeddy made it a special point to focus on social networking for promotion, tapping into word of mouth and having the Munchy Man character for their Facebook and Twitter accounts actively interacting with users and responding to them.

While the launch of the website made the idea of the online art a reality, it also forced them into the reality of the situation. Seven days a week, the site offers delivery from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m., meaning that Rehman and Jeddy are essentially working nonstop nightly. At any time in the night, rain or shine, they will be biking across West Campus, providing ping-pong balls rather than playing the game themselves. But it is not without its perks.

“It’s a very fast-paced environment, but it’s very fun,” Rehman said. “We will be riding our bikes down together and giving each other high fives. And everyone we meet has been great and suggesting products. They’ll just talk with us.”

Beyond the sacrifice of time, Munchy Mart also has to go through the usual growing pains of any startup company.

“It’s a lot of patience,” Jeddy said “We dream big, but dreams don’t come right away. There will be nights that people are continuously ordering, but the next night we have the lowest orders we have, so it’s dealing with the highs and lows.”

However, Rehman and Jeddy have a dynamic that keeps them on top of Munchy Mart. Rehman sees the big picture, looking at the overall dynamics and marketing image of the company while helping Jeddy balance school and work. “He’s like my dad when it comes to things like that,” Jeddy said.

Jeddy focuses more on the business side, looking at process operations and financial logistics.

With deliveries flowing in, Rehman and Jeddy are always looking to improve their business and have sought more support. Kyle Cox, director of On Campus Incubator and co-director of Wireless Technology Incubator who has a long history with startups, helped set them up in the last few weeks with Longhorn Startup Camp. The organization provides office space and other overhead for up-and-coming businesses.

“I was impressed with the cleverness of their idea and packaging,” Cox said. “But it was really that they were actually doing something and had already started their business by the time we met up and being in the middle of starting a business.”

As Rehman and Jeddy see it, after less than a month in the business, Munchy Man will hopefully be saving students from snack cravings one delivery at a time.

Printed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 as: Munchy Mart delivers a variety of goodies to students